Charlene Curtis, coaching trailblazer in ACC, dies at 67

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Charlene Curtis, the first Black women’s head basketball coach in the ACC, died Thursday after a battle with cancer, the conference said. She was 67.

Curtis was the head coach at Wake Forest from 1997-2004, after head coaching stops at Radford and Temple, where she also was the first African-American head women’s basketball coach.

Curtis played basketball at Radford shortly after the passage of Title IX in 1972 and become the school’s first 1,000-point scorer, male or female, and a member of its Hall of Fame. She majored in music and joined a Radford women’s basketball team that didn’t offer scholarships at the time.

Curtis worked in the ACC league office as the supervisor of officials for women’s basketball for 11 years, retiring in 2019. Along with her ACC job, Curtis spent that time as the coordinator of women’s basketball officials for the Southern Conference, the Big South and the Colonial Athletic Association.

“Charlene was a pioneer in the sport of women’s basketball, but more importantly, she was an amazing individual,” said ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips. “Her kindness and class resonated throughout her life, and she will be missed by all who were fortunate to know her and her inspiring spirit.”

A native of Roanoke, Virginia, her early coaching jobs included an assistant at Radford and graduate assistant coach at Virginia in 1981. She worked with Virginia head coach Debbie Ryan and then-assistant Geno Auriemma. Curtis became Radford’s head coach in 1984 at age 29, finishing with a 121-53 record in six seasons.

She also worked two years as an assistant at UConn before being hired at Wake Forest.

Curtis is survived by her partner of 24 years, Sharolyn Grant, and her sister and brother-in-law Millicent and Byrl Wright.

Arkansas to open against Louisville in Maui Invitational

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LAHAINA, Hawaii — Arkansas will face Louisville in the opening round of a loaded 2022 Maui Invitational bracket.

The eight-team bracket announced for the November event will include six teams that went to the 2022 NCAA Tournament, including three that reached the Sweet 16.

Arizona faces Cincinnati in the opening round after reaching the Sweet 16 in coach Tommy Lloyd’s first season. Texas Tech, another Sweet 16 team last season, plays Creighton and San Diego State faces Ohio State in the tournament’s return to the Lahaina Civic Center on Nov. 21-23.

The 2020 tournament was held in Asheville, North Carolina, and last year’s was played in Las Vegas.

Arkansas has reached the Elite Eight the past two seasons under coach Eric Musselman.

Duke, Arizona agree to basketball series for 2023 and 2024

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DURHAM, N.C. — Duke and Arizona have agreed to a home-and-home men’s basketball series for 2023 and 2024.

The schools announced the agreement Monday. The first meeting comes in November 2023 with the Wildcats visiting the Blue Devils’ famously hostile Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke travels west to Tucson the following November.

In statements, new Duke coach Jon Scheyer and Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd – named The Associated Press men’s college basketball national coach of the year in April after his debut season – said their teams will benefit from the marquee non-conference matchups.

The teams haven’t met since November 2013 and have played just nine times, including Duke’s win in the 2001 NCAA title game. The Wildcats lost their only trip to Cameron in February 1990, while the Blue Devils lost both trips to Arizona’s McKale Center in December 1987 and February 1991.

 

Tar Heels’ Pete Nance aims to fill void in UNC title chase

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Pete Nance doesn’t have to wonder what a successful season could look like for him at North Carolina. He saw it illustrated perfectly in the spring.

The Northwestern transfer watched the Tar Heels blend an outside-shooting big man in transfer Brady Manek so well that the Tar Heels made an unexpected push to the NCAA championship game. That has the 6-foot-10 graduate – who led the Wildcats in scoring, rebounding and 3-point percentage last year – eager to slide right in alongside four returning starters for a team with national-title aspirations.

“A lot of the time, it’s a mystery as to what you’re stepping into,” Nance said. “But as far as seeing what Brady did and the hole he left, I think it’s kind of an easy thing to see – that someone needs to step into that.”

It certainly looks like the perfect fit in a final college season for Nance, the son of retired 13-year NBA veteran Larry Nance and younger brother to current New Orleans Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr.

The Tar Heels have a double-double machine and relentless rebounder in Armando Bacot in the post. They have a n NBA prospect in Caleb Love with game-changing explosiveness as a scorer. They have a veteran guard in R.J. Davis and a versatile defender in Leaky Black, who is returning for an extra year of eligibility granted all athletes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But they had to replace Manek, a 6-9 Oklahoma transfer who averaged 15.1 points and 6.1 rebounds while shooting 40.3% from 3-point range. That production from the “stretch-4” big man capable of pulling defenders from the basket with outside shooting created more floor spacing, a vital piece of first-year coach Hubert Davis’ approach to modifying UNC’s attack after Hall of Famer Roy Williams retirement in April 2021.

Nance gives the Tar Heels the potential to replace at least some of that production.

“You see a lot of similarities I guess with the shooting,” Bacot said. “Brady, he’s like an all-time shooter. But Pete, he can really shoot the ball. He can score from a bunch of different levels.”

Both Bacot and Davis pointed to Davis’ ability off the ball, both to create openings for teammates or to get his own shot.”

“His ability to set screens and then roll, or read the defense and pop, that’s something that we need: his ability to space the floor,” Davis said. “He’s able to communicate with us and tell us, `Hey, let’s set this down screen real quick,’ or `let’s have this staggered. Let’s have an off-ball ball screen.”‘

“That’s something that I’ve been impressed with recently and throughout the whole summer. His experience and his willingness to be a team player, that’s going to go a long way this year.”

Nance, who averaged 14.6 points and 6.5 rebounds last year, isn’t a Manek clone. He has shot 41% from 3-point range over the past two seasons at Northwestern, though at a lower volume of attempts.

He has more length, which showed in some back-to-the-basket moves or the ability to contest shots while matching up with an opposing big man in the Big Ten. That’s versatility the Tar Heels sorely needed down the stretch when Bacot encountered foul trouble or injury, such as a Final Four ankle sprain that ultimately sidelined him in the final minute of the close title-game loss to Kansas.

The Tar Heels don’t need Nance to be a star. They just need him to do what he’s always done before.

“Obviously there’s going to be pressure,” Nance said. “We all kind of deal with pressure our whole life. It comes down to the preparation that you put in. … I feel pretty good about it. I’m just excited to get going.”

Clemson’s top scorer PJ Hall to have right knee surgery

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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson’s top scorer PJ Hall will need right knee surgery and there’s no timetable yet for when he might return to the court, the school said Monday.

Hall is a 6-foot-10 rising junior who averaged 15.5 points and 5.8 rebounds last season, and led Clemson with 38 blocks – nearly half of the team’s 77.

He had an MRI on Friday that revealed a subluxation of the patella, meaning his right kneecap had slid out of place.

Hall had surgery on one of his feet in the offseason to correct a problem that had lingered much of last year.

“It’s unfortunate, but you can’t change it,” Hall said in a statement. “Not every road is paved perfectly.”

Hall was expected to take another big step forward for the Tigers next season. Coach Brad Brownell said Hall will stay engaged throughout his latest rehab and help the team will his leadership.

“I know he will attack this latest obstacle with the same grit and determination that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from him,” Brownell said.

Roy Williams, Jim Calhoun among coaches headed to college hoops Hall

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Roy Williams and Jim Calhoun will join John Beilein and Lon Kruger in a star-studded cast of coaches who will be inducted into the National College Basketball Hall of Fame in November.

Another longtime coach, Jerry Krause of Eastern Washington, will join the quartet along with players Richard Hamilton of UConn, Larry Miller of North Carolina, Frank Selvy of Furman and Jimmy Walker of Providence.

The date of the induction ceremony has not been announced, but it typically coincides with the Hall of Fame Classic, which is set for Nov. 21-22 at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Williams retired in 2021 after leading two of college basketball’s bluebloods, Kansas and North Carolina, to a combined 903 wins – the third most for a Division I coach – and nine Final Four appearances. He spent his first 15 seasons with the Jayhawks before returning to his alma mater in 2003, where he led the Tar Heels to three national championships in 18 seasons.

Calhoun won three national championships at UConn, the first of them with Hamilton, who was voted the Final Four’s MVP after the Huskies beat Duke for the 1999 title. Calhoun’s other championships came in 2004 and 2011, making him one of six coaches in Division I history with at least three national titles.

Calhoun won 920 games with UConn, Northeastern and Division III Saint Joseph, where he finished his career in 2021.

Beilein won 829 games between stops at Erie Community College, Nazareth, Le Moyne, Canisius, Richmond, West Virginia and Michigan. The latter is where he became school’s winningest coach and had a pair of Final Four appearances.

Kruger also made two Final Four trips, first with Florida and then with Oklahoma, while leading five programs to the NCAA Tournament.

Krause spent 17 seasons at Eastern Washington, ushering the program from NAIA status to the Division I level.

Among the players, Miller starred on Dean Smith’s first two Final Four teams at North Carolina in the 1960s and remains one of three players in ACC history to win player of the year and tournament MVP in consecutive seasons. Selvy led Division I in scoring in 1953 and 1954, when he averaged 41.7 points for Furman. Walker led Providence to a pair of NCAA Tournaments in the 1960s, twice earning All-American honors while averaging 25.2 points for his career.